Are the smart/advanced meters accurate?

Our meters are installed and tested by an independent test house which is authorised by the Electricity Authority www.ea.govt.nz .  The meters we are installing have a higher class of accuracy than the existing meters which in some cases are over 40 years of age.

What is a smart/advanced meter?

A smart/advanced meter measures electricity usage in your home and communicates that usage and any power outages via a radio signal.  

How does a smart/advanced meter work?

It measures electricity usage in your home and communicates usage, and any outages through the use of and proven radio technologies.

How much do they cost?

Meter charges are incorporated into your electricity prices from retailers and there is no charge for the meter installation. 

Can smart/advanced meters be used for surveillance or security monitoring?

No. All meter reading data is in code and can only be read by the meter system computers. No other data (e.g. voice or video) can be transmitted. More than one million New Zealand homes now have smart/advanced meters and there is not a single documented case of any surveillance or security monitoring taking place.

When will consumers start getting smart/advanced meters?

On Metering will begin installing smart/advanced meters throughout our region later this year (2014).  Your electricity retailer will contact you directly to let you know in advance what the timetable is for installing a smart/advanced meter on your property.

Where will they install the smart/advanced meter?

The new meter will replace your exisiting meter and will be installed in the same position.

Can I decide not to have a smart/advanced meter?

If you do not wish to have a smart/advanced meter on your property please contact your retailer directly.

If I choose not to have a smart/advanced meter will it cost me more?

This is a question that is best asked of your electricity retailer (e.g. Contact, Trustpower, Genesis).  While On Metering owns and is installing the meters, individual electricity retailers determine their own pricing arrangements for their customers.

Will my power bill go up if I have a smart/advanced meter?

The fact that you have a smart/advanced meter has no bearing on the price you pay per kilowatt of power charged by your electricity retailer. Part of the smart/advanced meter installation involves On Metering ensuring all consumers are on the correct tariff and all wiring and equipment is safe. As meters age a small minority can start to run slower or faster and record electricity consumption inaccurately. This means that some people’s power bills may change once their electricity usage is on the correct tariff and being recorded correctly.

Will I pay more for my smart/advanced meter on my monthly bill than I currently pay for my existing meter?

On Metering is paid a monthly rental by retailers. We will not be charging customers an additional fee. Individual electricity retailers determine their own pricing arrangements for their customers.

What are the benefits of smart/advanced meters?

  • Information about daily and hourly power usage can be provided to consumers.
  • Power accounts will be based upon actual consumption not on an estimate.
  • Alerted if your supply voltage is too high or too low.
  • Alerted if you have a power failure.
  • Access is no longer required for meter readers.
  • Management of power outages will be improved leading to quicker restoration of power supply.
    • Consumers will in future be able to set energy efficient appliances to interact with their smart/advanced meter to alter usage to suit their lifestyle and manage electricity costs.
    • Consumers will in future automatically turn off 'non-critical' appliances when not in use.
  • Dynamic electricity tariff plans can be provided through the electricity retailer.

Will a meter reader still need to come to my home or business?

No. The smart/advanced meter is fitted with a wireless communication device that allows reading of the meter remotely.

How long will installation take?

A standard residential installation will take round 30-60 minutes. The power will need to be turned off during installation.

How is the smart/advanced meter different from my existing electricity meter?

Your existing electricity meter is a passive device that simply measures your usage for the purposes of billing.  This is different to a smart/advanced meter, which is an active management device.  It provides data including faults information, and has the capacity in the future for your electricity retailer and distributor use electricity to help you use electricity more efficiently.

How will the smart/advanced meter/smart grid system help the environment?

Over time, the smart/advanced meter/smart grid system will deliver a more efficient electricity network, ultimately delaying the need to build new generating capacity or larger transmission and distribution networks.

Is my electricity retailer aware of what you are doing?

Yes, initially we are installing smart/advanced meters for Contact Energy, Genesis, and Energy On Line but we are working with all retailers.

How will I know that my smart/advanced meter has been installed?

The installer will leave an acknowledgement of the installation to let you know it is completed.

How does the smart/advanced meter work if you have solar panels?

A smart/advanced meter will record electricity that is imported into your premises and exported if you are generating more electricity than you require. We will also be able to identify illegal installations which pose a safety risk.

Do smart/advanced meters cause adverse health effects?

Our understanding is that no evidence of any adverse health effects from smart/advanced meters has been demonstrated in peer-reviewed, science-based research published in reputable scientific publications. We have posted several pieces of such research on our website for your information.

How is information transmitted?

All meter reading data is in code and can only be read by the meter system computers.  No other data (e.g. voice or video) can be transmitted. Information is transmitted via radio signal. 

How often does a smart/advanced meter transmit information?

A smart/advanced meter is inactive for the vast majority of the time and is actively transmitting data for approximately one percent of any 24-hour period.

Where can I find further information?

Please see the Contact Us section of this website.

What do we do with meter reading information?

The data read from the smart/advanced meter is provided to your retailer for their billing purposes.

What if the meter is faulty?

The smart/advanced meter has self-diagnostics which will alert us of faults, we will arrange a service visit for these to be investigated and corrected.  If you have any reason to think there is a fault with your meter pleases contact your retailer and they will arrange for an investigation.

What area does On Metering provide smart/advanced meters?

On Metering provide meters in the North Canterbury and Kaikoura regions.

Access point ‐ A term typically used to describe an electronic device that provides for wireless connectivity via a WAN to the Internet or a particular computer facility.

Duty cycle – A measure of the percentage or fraction of time that an RF device is in operation. A duty cycle of 100% corresponds to continuous operation (e.g., 24 hours/day). A duty cycle of 1% corresponds to a transmitter operating on average 1% of the time (e.g., 14.4 minutes/day).
Electromagnetic field (EMF) ‐ A composition of both an electric field and a magnetic field that are related in a fixed way that can convey electromagnetic energy. Antennas produce electromagnetic fields when they are used to transmit signals.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ‐ The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the US Federal Government and is directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC also allocates bands of frequencies for non‐government communications services (the NTIA allocates government frequencies). The guidelines for human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields as set by the FCC are contained in the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) Bulletin 65, Edition 97‐01 (August 1997). Additional information is contained in OET Bulletin 65 Supplement A (radio and television broadcast stations), Supplement B (amateur radio stations), and Supplement C (mobile and portable devices).

Gigahertz (GHz) ‐ One billion Hertz, or one billion cycles per second, a measure of frequency.

Hertz ‐ The unit for expressing frequency, one Hertz (Hz) equals one cycle per second.

Megahertz (MHz) ‐ One million Hertz, or one million cycles per second, a unit for expressing frequency.

Mesh network ‐ A network providing a means for routing data, voice and instructions between nodes. A mesh network allows for continuous connections and reconfiguration around broken or blocked data paths by “hopping” from node to node until the destination is reached.

Milliwatt per square centimeter (mW/cm2) ‐ A measure of the power density flowing through an area of space, one thousandth (10‐3) of a watt passing through a square centimeter.

Microwatt per square centimeter (μW/cm2) ‐ A measure of the power density flowing through an area of space, one millionth (10‐6) of a watt passing through a square centimeter.

Radiofrequency (RF) ‐ The RF spectrum is formally defined in terms of frequency as extending from 0 to 3000 GHz, the frequency range of interest is 3 kHz to 300 GHz.

Repeater unit ‐ A device that can simultaneously receive a radio signal and retransmit the signal. Repeater units are used to extend the range of low power transmitters in a geographical area.

Router ‐ An electronic computer device that is used to route and forward information, typically between various computers within a local area network or between different local area networks.

Advanced meter ‐ A digital device for measuring consumption, such as for electricity and natural gas, and sending the measurement to a utility company. Automated meter reading (AMR) meters send information one‐way only. Automated meter infrastructure. (AMI) meters are capable of two‐way communications. Specific absorption rate (SAR) ‐ The incremental energy absorbed by a mass of a given density. SAR is expressed in units of watts per kilogram (or milliwatts per gram, mW/g).

Transmitter ‐ An electronic device that produces RF energy that can be transmitted by an antenna. The transmitted energy is typically referred to a radio signal or RF field.

Wide area network (WAN) ‐ A computer network that covers a broad area such as a whole community, town, or city. Commonly, WANs are implemented via a wireless connection using radio signals. High‐speed Internet connections can be provided to customers by wireless WANs.

Wi‐Fi ‐ An name given to the wireless technology used in home networks, mobile phones, and other wireless electronic devices that employ the IEEE 802.11 technologies (a standard that defines specific characteristics of wireless local area networks).

- California Council on Science and Technology

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